Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 8:23 pm
After a quarter century together as one of the world's top chamber music ensembles, the Fugue String Quartet is falling apart at the seams. A generation older than his colleagues, cellist Peter (Christopher Walken) is experiencing the early symptoms of Parkinson's, and with his sudden retirement, a morass of long-buried resentments and pain come spewing out of his three younger partners: first violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir), second violinist Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and violist Juliette (Catherine Keener).
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 7:30 am
Bassist Omer Avital came from Israel to New York in the early '90s and found himself among the top tier of straight-ahead modern jazz performers. The time in the big city led him to re-investigate his roots — his parents are from the Arab-speaking world — and in 2002, he returned to Israel to study traditional music and oud. Since returning, he's remained a monster bass player, but has also integrated his Middle Eastern musical interests into his composing.
Ethiopia enjoys a rich tradition of enticing music, filled with asymmetric rhythms set to a haunting, five-note scale and sly double-entendre lyrics in the Amharic language. It's a shame that, for Western listeners, a full, clear picture of Ethiopian music has been elusive.
There comes a time in the life of most string quartets when, for better or worse, Beethoven must be confronted. For the acclaimed Belcea Quartet (named after its first violinist Corina Belcea), that time is now. The London-based group, founded at the Royal College of Music in 1994, is thoroughly steeped in Beethoven's 16 string quartets — pieces written throughout the early, middle and late stages of his career in an epic sweep of compositional mastery and imagination.